Home and history rhyme

CLOSE to the long shadows of one of Cork city’s oldest pieces of architecture, the 13th century Red Abbey, is Margaret Street, where houses built in the old city marsh area are still standing proud, 250 years after construction.

A lovely, original, feel-good home here with its own historical quirks is 14, Margaret Street. Its title deeds from 1767 granted its first owner, a seafarer called George Randall, quayage rights to moor a boat by the garden’s end.

One of the current family of owners, who grew up here, recalls reclaiming that right along with singer Jimmy Crowley, back in the 1980s, when they rowed an inflatable dinghy up to George’s Quay, and carted it into Callnan’s bar on the quay for a celebration.

Much of this area, originally outside the walled city, was marsh, and the Augustinian friary, of which the Red Abbey was part, stretched to two acres. Over time, and principally in the 1700s, the area beyond the quays became ‘made ground’ and its nature changed, becoming more residential.

Back in the late 1980s, several very old stone houses by the grotto on Dunbar Street were restored by Cork City Council under what was known as the Revolving Door scheme, where funds from restored houses that were sold went into similarly doing up others in need. They became very trendy places to buy.

Now, decades later, No 14 Margaret Street holds all the promise for similar buyers.

It is a characterful, solid end-terraced limestone house with 1,500 sq ft of space over three levels. It is for sale with estate agent Jeremy Murphy, who says it has immense potential to become a beautiful city home, minutes’ walk from everything. He seeks offers around €209,000.

Essentially, it has two main rooms per floor, but its great strength is a rear annexe rising over each of the three floors: at ground level, it provides for a kitchenette and bathroom beyond with shower, and off each of the next two overhead bedrooms, there’s lots of space for a good en suite and dressing room. There’s up to four bedrooms on offer, but the first floor front room with two windows and fireplace would also make a great drawing room.

With its exposed stone gable, original features and walled in back yard, No 14 has huge integrity, and history. While it needs work it doesn’t need so much that its character would disappear. It could be really special, and even restoring proper sash windows here (in lieu of the not-so-bad pvc woodgrain effect double glazing in front)) will show architectural respect. Time to reclaim a berthing place on the quays, too.


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